The new social: messaging applications

facebookRetail companies looking to connect with digital natives are being advised to turn to messaging platforms after new consumer data outlined a continuation in the rapid growth of apps for talk, text and chat. 

Roy Morgan data released last week found that the number of Australians aged over 14 years who used Facebook Messenger via mobile in an average four weeks has grown 19 percent since last year to 6.5 million – or almost a third of Australians. 

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Whatsapp, which is also owned by Facebook, grew by 15 per cent in the same period to 2.2 monthly average users in Australia. 

Messaging apps, particularly WhatsApp and Skype, may be the key to connecting with Australians born overseas, with data indicating that one in five overseas-born Australians now use Whatsapp in an average month, compared with 7.9 of consumers born here. 

Skype usage is 2.5 times her among foreign-born consumers, but use is consistent across both groups for Facebook Messenger. 

According to Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine the platforms are now looking to cash-in on their popularity by working with brands to deliver targeted advertising to consumers, an area that requires careful consideration given that messaging is often a private communication channel. 

“Users have generally accepted seeing ads in their social media feeds, messaging apps are about private communication,” Levine said. “Owners know they need to find more creative ways to generate revenue.”

Whatsapp are now monetising by partnering with businesses to offer a communication tool for existing customers, monetising their platform while giving brands unprecedented levels of personalised consumer interactions. 

“Large customer-facing retail, travel, and finance businesses would do well to investigate how many of their customers are using WhatsApp as a primary communication tool,” Levine added. 

Facebook is also working with retailers to connect with customers using Messenger, with early adopters such as Domino’s Pizza already using the platform with its own AI system. 

The findings are the latest of a broader body of research indicating a broader trend towards messaging apps and away from traditional social media platforms among Australian consumers.

Data compiled by messaging analytics company OnMessage last year in collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney found that the apps are now used more than traditional social channels.

The research revealed that there are 11 million active users on messaging apps in Australia, with as many as 54 per cent of 15-19 year olds using messaging as their primary form of contact with others.

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